A family’s daily struggle at Sa’aga

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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PLEASE HELP US: Manuele Fuga carrying the youngest of his six children.

PLEASE HELP US: Manuele Fuga carrying the youngest of his six children.

Manuele Fuga of Sa’aga, Siumu, 38, says it has got to the point where all he can do is watch his cries for help blow in the wind.

 “I have six children with three of them in school; the only source of money I have to provide for my family is from kauaga (coconut fiber sinnet), coconut oil and other small products, along with crops from my plantation to sell.

SOURCE OF INCOME:  Manuele Fuga’s road stall.

SOURCE OF INCOME: Manuele Fuga’s road stall.

“I try my best but I know in my heart it’s just not enough for my family, especially when it comes to school fees.”

Living with his wife, Sitiseni, and their children, Manuele says he’s been finding his living conditions without running water and electricity, a real struggle.

“The source of money we currently have does get us by,” he said.

“But it’s not like working in an office job, money doesn’t come every day; some days we would have money and other times, there’s nothing.

“An ideal day will get us about $20; and that doesn’t satisfy the needs of the family because we have bus fares to pay, food items that need to be bought; $20 is just not enough.

And if minor earnings weren’t proving tough for the family, Manuele says they also don’t have access to running water and electricity.

“We have no light here in the house,” he says. “We can’t afford it. We also cannot afford getting water to the house. 

“We do need help.”

Let’s face it. The most basic definition of poverty is when a family’s basic needs are not met.

Basic needs include water, electricity, food, houses and so on; and if not all of those are met in the slightest, then that person – or that family – are most definitely living under the poverty line.

With many families around Samoa evidently living in these conditions, it makes one wonder how anyone could say that there is no poverty in Samoa.

SOURCE OF INCOME:  Manuele Fuga’s road stall.
SOURCE OF INCOME: Manuele Fuga’s road stall.

The small money the father makes is barely enough to get his family by on a day to day basis and it saddens him that he can only do so much for his loved ones.

 Says Manuele: “We need light and we need water. We need help. My uncle’s house has running water but the water pipes do not reach my house. If I had money, I would have been able to get water to my house a long time ago.

 “But it costs $500 to get the pipes to my house and that is just too much.”

For the struggling father, he admits that even some of his family members have neglected him.

“We don’t have many family members we can rely on right now,” he says. 

“The money I make barely gets us by every day; the only family members I have close by are down the road from us and they help us from time to time.

“I also have family overseas but when I ask for money they will always give me the same answer - yes we will send some money to help - but those are just empty words.

“I refuse to ask them for help anymore because it’s just a waste of time; even when it comes to my siblings they just won’t help so I have stopped calling them.”

Manuele and his family were living in a tin house before moving to their current location and he is grateful he got a better house and a water tank from the United Nations Development Programme.

 Says Manuele: “It would be nice if some companies could help us out too.

“I am sure they can afford giving a few families access to water or electricity; that would really show their heart for the community.”

Manuele and his family are desperate and they need your help.

He says: “We know that water is life.

“When my small water tanks run out of water we ask my uncle if we could use his tap to shower. So we all walk in the dark to his house.

“We use the rain water stored in the tank for drinking, showers, laundry and so on. We use the bucket and when that runs out, what other choice do we have? We go and bother our nearby family.

“Please. We need help.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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